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Thread: Suburban home prices near highs of 2007-08

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    Default Suburban home prices near highs of 2007-08

    October 9, 2009 Friday

    Suburban home prices near highs of 2007-08

    Some mid-tier projects have topped previous peaks, figures based on URA data show

    By Fiona Chan

    HOUSE hunters: If it feels like that suburban condominium you are eyeing is just as expensive now as it was during the 2007-2008 property boom, that is because it probably is.

    Although overall private home prices are still some 15 per cent below recent peaks, prices of mass market homes have already climbed back to the levels of early last year, right before the recession hit.

    According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA's) latest estimate, released last week, prices of suburban private homes are just 3 per cent shy of their peak levels in the second quarter of last year.

    Some individual projects - such as Seletaris in Yio Chu Kang and Casa Merah in Tanah Merah - have already surpassed these levels, going by calculations done by The Straits Times using data from URA's Realis database.

    For mid-tier properties, URA's data indicated prices remain about 15 per cent off peaks last year.

    But some condos in this category are also bucking the trend, with higher prices in the third quarter this year than in the property boom just past.

    In the Jalan Besar area, for instance, three condominiums - Citylights, Southbank, and City Square Residences - are now commanding higher average prices per sq ft than they did at the height of the boom, according to The Straits Times' calculations.

    The calculations compared these condos' average price psf in the third quarter this year with the second quarter of last year. All the projects had several sales in the most recent quarter, but some had as few as two in the second quarter of last year as sentiment tapered off ahead of the recession.

    Similarly, in the East Coast area, projects such as The Esta and The Sea View have already breached their peak average psf prices. This pattern has also cropped up in selected condos from Clementiwoods in Clementi to The Regency @ Tiong Bahru.

    While launches of suburban condos have seen a massive surge in demand in recent months, resales of existing homes have so far stayed out of the limelight. But they have also been appreciating in value as sentiment in the real estate market goes from strength to strength, said property consultants.

    'For mass-market leasehold projects outside the prime areas, just based on resale prices, we have almost gone back to the 2007-2008 levels,' said Ms Chua Chor Hoon, head of South-east Asia research at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.

    According to her research, the average price of a leasehold non-landed resale home rose to $610 psf in the third quarter of this year, a mere $5 psf less than the most recent peak of $615 psf.

    With private home prices still on an uptrend, having jumped a 20-year record of 16 per cent in the third quarter this year, it seems just a matter of time before suburban condo prices hit new highs.

    But consultants say this may not necessarily happen, at least not by the end of this year.

    For one thing, the Government's measures to cool the property market, announced last month, could have a dampening effect on home sales and moderate price increases.

    This is unlikely to hit actual demand for homes, but the announcement's psychological impact could cause a knee-jerk reaction and help prevent private home prices from escalating at an unsustainable pace, said Ms Tay Huey Ying, director of research and advisory at property firm Colliers International.

    'As it is, the stand-offs between buyers and sellers in the secondary market are showing signs of a return,' she said. Buyers are also starting to complain about the higher prices of mass market homes.

    'We have seen a slight slowdown in sales generally in the market, partly because of the prices, and partly because of the Government's announcements,' she said, adding that prices have yet to suffer.

    'I think some people are refusing to pay high prices, but sellers are not lowering their asking prices, so we are seeing the number of inquiries and also transactions come down a bit.'

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